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What to Watch in January

Lisa Tipton
A painted turtle amongst fall leaves in Algonquin Provincial Park, Canada
A painted turtle in Algonquin Provincial Park, Canada, in 'Nature: Big Little Journeys.' Credit: Deya Swift / BBC NHU

There's a huge amount of worthwhile TV out there nowadays, so it can be hard to choose what to watch. But who better to recommend shows than the person who programs them? Lisa Tipton, WTTW’s Head of Programming and Pledge, constructs the WTTW schedule by searching through offerings from many different sources which include the national PBS network, the BBC, and independent filmmakers to put together a varied and engaging broadcast schedule. Each month, she’ll recommend a few shows that she thinks you should watch.

Find all the ways to watch WTTW here. Many of the below shows are available to stream or will be once they premiere.

New seasons of long-running shows

The new year brings both new shows and new seasons of old favorites, like Finding Your Roots on Tuesdays at 7:00 pm beginning January 2. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., traces the ancestors of celebrities like Alanis Morissette, LeVar Burton, and Iliza Shlesinger in the new season. 

The twenty-eighth season of Antiques Roadshow premieres the following week, airing Mondays at 7:00 pm beginning January 8.

Examining Democracy

2024 is a Presidential election year, so we're starting off the year with some documentaries examining various issues around democracy a quarter of the way in to the twenty-first century. 

First up is A Citizen's Guide to Preserving Democracy on Tuesday, January 2 at 8:00 pm, in which the Amanpour and Company host and PBS NewsHour contributor Hari Sreenivasan showcases and explores how regular people are attempting to strengthen American democracy. 

On Monday, January 8 at 9:00 pm, The Cost of Inheritance: An America ReFramed Special dives into the idea of reparations for African Americans. On Tuesday, January 23 at 8:00 pm, American Experience: Nazi Town, USA looks back at a frighteningly popular pro-fascist, Ku Klux Klan-allied organization that promoted the Nazis around the time of World War II. And on Tuesday, January 30 at 8:00 pm, Frontline looks at the January 6-related criminal cases against former President Trump in Democracy on Trial.

Sunday night dramas



Sundays bring two new shows and new seasons of two old favorites. It starts on January 7 with the season 4 premieres of Miss Scarlet and the Duke (7:00 pm) and All Creatures Great and Small (8:00 pm) and the premiere of Funny Woman (9:00 pm), which is based on a Nick Hornby novel about a beauty queen attempting to become a comedian. On January 14, the miniseries Marriage joins the mix at 6:00 pm, following the long relationship of a couple played by Nicola Walker and Sean Bean.

Documentaries on North Korea


We're not just looking inward at our documentaries in January; two try to peel back the curtain on the closed-off North Korea. Independent Lens: Beyond Utopia airs Tuesday, January 9 at 8:00 pm and tells the stories of families trying to escape the cloistered society of North Korea. 9:00 pm on Tuesday, January 16 brings Kim Yo-Jong: The Red Princess, a portrait of the sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un, and his likely successor.  

Nature: Big Little Journeys

Wednesdays at 7:00 pm beginning January 10


Have you ever wondered what the world is like for a turtle, or a primate? The three-part Big Little Journeys from Nature gives you a glimpse, as it follows small creatures on journeys that might seem insignificant to us but are proportionally huge and dangerous for the creatures.